The National Academy of Sciences, chartered by Congress as an advisor to the federal government on science and technology issues, elected a record high of 19 women (26 percent) out of the 72 new inductees for 2005. The number of women elected rose to 24 percent in both 2003 and 2004 after hovering around 10 percent in past year, according to the New York Times.
Dr. John I. Brauman of Stanford University, who oversaw the election process, denies any relationship between the record high and Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers’s sexist comments about women in the sciences, according to the Times. New member and Harvard Medical School professor Christine Seidmen agrees, telling the Harvard Crimson that while Summers’s comments may have had “ripple effects,” she does not think this election was one of them. Brauman suggests in the Times that the increasing number of women in the sciences are just beginning to be felt at this level, as most inductees are in their 50s at the time of election.
This was not the case for 2005 inductee Deborah Jin, of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Rocky Mountain News reports that her election this year, at age 36, makes her one of the youngest women ever elected, an honor shared with Susan Solomon, elected in 1992. According to the Harvard Crimson, fellow inductee Seidman suggests that the election of more women, and younger women, represents a greater acknowledgement of skilled women scientists by their male counterparts, saying “this is great news, and I hope it’s sung from the highest rooftops.”